A pair of one-act dramedies written sixteen years apart by two different playwrights make for one compelling, superbly acted evening of Sibling Rivalry at Hollywood’s Lounge Theatre.
The plays in question are James McLure’s 1979 Lone Star and Edward Allan Baker’s 1995 Rosemary With Ginger, the former focusing on a pair of good-ol’-boy Texas brothers, the latter on a couple of tough-cookie Rhode Island sisters, the two one-acts revealing that whether you live in the continental U.S.’s biggest state or in its teeny-tiny smallest, blood is indeed thicker than water regardless of how ornery/bitchy male and female siblings can be.
Taylor Handley and Wes McGee star pre-intermission as uber-macho Roy and his somewhere-on-the-spectrum younger brother Ray, out for a night of imbibing Lone Star beer at a small-town Texas bar following Roy’s return from a stint in Vietnam, one that has left him in fine physical shape but not-so-fine mental form.
Still, war-related PTSD or not, Roy can at least rejoice in being back in the USA with the pink ’59 Thunderbird he cherishes at least as much as his sexy young Missus.
Perhaps not surprisingly over the course of Lone Star’s 70-minute running time, Roy comes to discover that things have not remained the same at home as they were when he set off for Nam … not by a long shot.
The women take over in Sibling Rivalry’s shorter second half which has feuding 30something sisters Rosemary (Kirsta Peterson) and Ginger (Kim Hamilton) reuniting in the latter’s now-shuttered Peter Pan Diner, ostensibly to co-author an “Unsung Mother Of The Month” essay in hopes of winning Mom a $500-dollar gift certificate to Shoppers World but clearly with other matters on their minds.
If Rosemary’s ongoing fight with her now remarried ex Brad seem on the verge of robbing her of custody of their kids, Ginger seems hardly any luckier, the recent discovery of hubby Henry jerking off to a Madonna video revealing her own marital woes.
Like Lone Star playwright McClure, Rosemary With Ginger scribe Baker knows precisely what makes siblings tick—and clash and cheat and lie—regardless of gender or regional accent, and by juxtaposing the two plays, ace director Troy Ruptash and his cast of Hollywood working actors studying at the Aquila Morong Studio give themselves some doozies of roles to sing their teeth into while offering audiences an entertaining couple hours of theater along the way.
Handley’s sexy, growly, dynamo of a Roy contrasts to perfection with McGee’s sweet, subtly-shaded Ray, with a terrific Joe Massingill making the absolute most of third-wheel catalyst Cletis, who’s got his own crosses to bear and axes to grind. (Mercer Boffey alternates with Handley as Roy.)
As for the women, Hamilton shows off dramatic chops to match the comedic gifts she’s already revealed in The Altruists and The Boomerang Effect, while an equally splendid Peterson vanishes inside Rosemary’s hard-as-nails skin, both actresses revealing hidden wounds in need of healing.
Scenic designer Timothy Pacaldo has created a pair of nicely detailed sets that morph during intermission from Lone Star’s roadside-saloon backyard to Rosemary With Ginger’s shuttered but not yet vacated diner.
Kudos go too to Erica Lawrence’s subtly effective lighting design and to Ruptash’s equally fine sound and music design. (Lone Star in particular benefits from Ruptash’s blend of country jukebox ditties and assorted bar and highway noises.) The plays’ uncredited costumes are equally well chosen.
Ashley Clark is stage manager.
Though originally written to be performed in tandem with McLure’s own Laundry And Bourbon (which features Roy’s and Cletis’s wives in its three-female cast), Lone Star works equally well with the thematically linked Rosemary With Ginger.
Sibling Rivalry’s blend of Texas’s national beer with some tangy herbs and spices add up to a zesty theatrical mix.
Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Boulevard. Hollywood.
September 6, 2015